Our guide to buying the perfect Family Car

There’s a lot to consider when you’re looking to find the perfect car for your family. How many people are you likely to be transporting each day? What size pram, bikes etc will need to be stored in your boot? Bigger is not necessarily better, its more about what space is available in the vehicle and if it will configure to suit your family’s needs today, and into the future. In a panic you might be looking at a 7 seater to ferry all your kids and their friends to sport on Saturdays, but a vehicle with a versatile interior with multiple folding seat and access options that are easy to use may be all that is required.

Here’s our checklist to help you find the perfect car for your family:

  • Consider SEATS –how many do you need and not just for today –will you be adding to your family in the foreseeable future? Will you need to transport your kid’s friends to places? If you’re have 3 kids or more its going to mean a 7 seater so you can eliminate anything less. Many modern cars have a third row of seats that fold down when you’re not using them leaving you with a super-sized boot when the third row isn’t in use.
  • Think about SPACE – this car is going to have to transport more than your neat little leather weekend bag and a set of golf clubs. You’ll need room for scooters, bikes, prams, beach equipment and a full grocery shop. Perhaps consider a back seat with a split fold so you can fold down the seats you’re not using to give you more room. Again I suggest you eliminate anything that isn’t going to suit immediately. Taking your pram or some other items with you when you’re test driving is a great idea so you know exactly how it all fits.
  • What SIZE? Do you live in the city driving amongst narrow streets with a tiny garage or limited onstreet parking? Perhaps a smaller car will be more suitable for you long term. Consider the fuel economy of your vehicle particularly if its going to be in use a lot of the time. Petrol is expensive!
  • What’s the in house ENTERTAINMENT LIKE? Yes yes, kids don’t need more screen time and should be looking out the window or reading a book. But sometimes on long road trips you’re going to be ever so grateful to the engineer that installed the DVD players on the backs of the carseats.
  • Ban lap only seatbelts. Far too many cars still have a lap only belt in the centre of the rear passenger seat. They’re dangerous and can cause horrific internal and abdominal injuries. No three point seatbelt? Eliminate that vehicle from your shortlist.
  • Avoid the car showrooms on the weekend. Everyone’s out on the weekend test driving cars. I’d suggest you go on a quieter day through the week to ensure you have the full attention of the sales staff and no one is feeling rushed or pushed through a sales funnel just to close the deal.
Unfortunately road accidents do happen so from a road safety aspect I would suggest you seek out the following features in your new car:
  • ABS brakes.
  • Multiple air bags – particularly side airbags which lessen the chances of a fatality by up to 50%!
  • If available and within budget, I would recommend you opt in for rear parking sensors and/or vehicle mounted cameras to give you the best possible visibility when reversing your car. Sadly far too many children are killed each year in their own driveways.
  • Child safety locks on doors and windows.
  • Narrow down your search by reviewing what your prospective new car’s ‘Crash Safety Rating’ is. You can do this by visiting the Ancap website and look for cars that rank the highest for safety.

Are we there yet?

In car entertainment is quite legal for everyone except the driver (for obvious reasons!). Hearing the words “are we there yet?” on high repeat can turn a lovely Sunday drive into a teeth grinding horror movie. Many kids get bored in the car and need some distraction.

Thankfully these days, the electronica can come on the journey with you. Whether you choose handheld gaming consoles or go all out for the in-car entertainment system, you might get from A to B with barely a noise from the back seat.

Its important that safe headphones are used to avoid distracting the driver and that the children know how to activate/reactive their games or movies themselves so that the driver isn’t required to intervene and take their eyes off the road.

If you’re not a fan of devices in the car, that’s ok. There’s always eye-spy!